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By Mike Avitt
Bob and Kay Sickels took this week’s picture in 1992, prior to the restoration process. The depot was restored and opened as a museum in 2000.
The Burlington Northern Railroad officially closed the 19.7 miles of line from Lamoni to Mount Ayr on April 8, 1976.
It is likely rail service ceased before this date. I also don’t know when the rails were picked up, but I know the railroad ties were removed in 1978.
There were three other railroad abandonments in Ringgold County, so let’s look at those.
The first one came on June 27, 1945 when the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy discontinued service between Mount Ayr and Grant City, Missouri. This left Delphos, Redding, and Irena, Missouri without rail service.
After this, Mount Ayr was served from the junction at Lamoni and Grant City was served from the junction at Albany, Missouri.
The next abandonment was the old Humeston & Shenandoah, taken over by the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy in 1895.
This was an unusual line to say the least. It was built in 1881-82 and ran from Van Wert to Shenandoah where the line terminated. It passed through only one county seat, that being Clarinda. This line originated in Keokuk and reached Van Wert about 1880. Van Wert was also on the Des Moines, Osceola, & Southern (Cainsville, Mo.) line so it was an important railroad town.
In Ringgold County, this railroad created the towns of Beaconsfield, Wirt (Ellston), Tingley, Goshen (and later Diagonal), and Clearfield. Also a station between Goshen and Tingley called Kew.
This railroad was mostly agriculture-based rather than industrial or passenger based.
This line was abandoned on December 31, 1945. Although the people of Tingley protested, the Interstate Commerce Commission allowed the abandonment to go through.
The town of Clearfield continued to get rail service from a junction a few miles west along the Creston- St. Joseph branch of the CB&Q. The old railroad bed can still be seen in many areas of Ringgold County and one depot (Tingley) survives the by-gone days of the Humeston & Shenandoah.
The Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City Railway was built through Ringgold County in 1887-88 giving birth to the towns of Shannon City, Knowlton, Diagonal, Benton, Maloy, and Blockton. The C,StP,&KC became the Chicago Great Western in 1892. The CGW was absorbed by the Chicago&Northwestern in 1968.
In 1980, the Rock Island Railroad went belly-up and trackage from the former Rock was sold piece-meal. The C&NW bought the line from St. Paul to Des Moines to Kansas City known as the “Spine line” in 1983. This gave the C&NW the opportunity to abandon the Des Moines to Kansas City line which ran through Ringgold County.
In January 1984, the C&NW announced plans to eliminate the Des Moines to St. Joseph line. On June 28, 1984, an abandonment hearing was held with very little opposition heard.
On June 29 the C&NW filed an application for abandonment with the Interstate Commerce Commission. With no opposition to the application, the abandonment would be finalized 75 days after the filing.
And that was the final, active railroad line in Ringgold county.
After a railroad abandoned a line, there were still building material, tools, and equipment to be retrieved. Even cars sitting on sidetracks, so the action didn’t end until the right-of-way was sold in lots.
I know where most of the railbeds were around Ringgold County so I look for them as I drive along the beautiful Iowa countryside.